The Three Witches

              (With Emily, David, Elwood and Henry)

Mummy!  They're not witches at all!  But we were all so scared as we stood outside their cottage!  Do you remember the story you told us, of Hansel and Gretel?  We took bread crumbs with us, and we dropped them along the way, but David said we really didn't need them.

Yes, Mummy!  I told them we should save the crumbs for Dillard and Demora, so we only used a few.

Oh, Mummy, both David and Elwood were so brave...they were in the van of our procession across the meadow!  Henry and I were just behind them, though, and we sang the entire time as we marched towards the cottage of the witches, but Elwood shushed us as we came near.  Henry doesn't sing, nor has he ever said even a single word, but he laughs a lot, and he holds my hand.  Bailey simply would not stay in the procession with us and romped about, sniffing and doing what dogs do when they find something interesting, but we were all very glad that he was with us.  He is quite protective of us, you know.

As we marched across the meadow and came near the cottage, we could see a small barn on the other side, with five cows grazing nearby.  David and Elwood both agreed they might be enchanted cows, and perhaps they were really children.  They looked like Uncle Edward's two cows to me, though, so I didn't say anything.

Emily, I'm sure Henry thought the cows might have been enchanted children, too!  Did you see that he wanted to pet them?  He was just quiet, like he usually is.

Yes, David, I thought they could have been enchanted.  But they were very nice, as cows are often known to be.  Aren't they, Mummy?

It was the most surprising thing, Mummy!  One of the witches stepped out of the barn, as surprised as we were when she saw us standing in a row before her!  She put down a large bucket and wiped her hands on her apron, and said to us, "Well.  I see we have visitors.  Would you like to come in for biscuits and tea?"  It was not at all what we expected a witch to say to us!

I was the one who accepted, Mummy.  She was a very pretty lady, although much older than you, and she winked at me as she asked us to come in and have some warm biscuits from the oven.  She didn't look at all like a witch, so I thought perhaps we were wrong.  She asked each of us our name, and I spoke first, and I told her my name is David, and that we live across the meadow.  When she asked Henry his name, he just nodded.  Emily gave her a little curtsy as she spoke, and Elwood bowed very low.  I could see that the witch was pleased.

It was the most pleasant time, Mummy.  We sat at a very large kitchen table and the smell of the biscuits was just wonderful!  The nice lady said that her name was Margaret, and we could call her Auntie, if we preferred.  She told us she had two sisters who also lived there, and both of them were younger than she.  Martha and Molly.  Those are the names of the two sisters, and Molly is the youngest.  she asked us a great many questions, but we asked just as many of her.  She told us that Molly went to school with you and Daddy!  Do you remember Molly?

When we had finished the tea and biscuits, Martha and Molly came in from the barn and joined us.  They make cheese and sell it to the village.  They're not witches at all, but the strangest thing happened while we were there.

Oh, Mummy!  We learned a riddle from Molly... What did the snail say as it rode on the turtle's back?         Wheeeee ! ! ! !

David, let me tell Mummy about the strange thing that happened... I saw Margaret and Martha look at each other when Henry held up his hand and then pointed to his plate.  He would like another biscuit, it was plain to see, but when Martha asked him, he lowered his head and, of course, didn't answer her.  Mummy, she knealt on the floor next to him and lifted his head, and held it while she looked into his eyes.  He tried to look away, but she turned his head towards her, and said in a very low voice, "Child, tell me your name.  I know you can do it."  The kitchen became very quiet as we all looked at Henry with Martha holding his face toward her.  Again, in a very soft voice, she said, "Child, tell us your name," and she hugged him.  When she tilted his head, he whispered, "My name is 'enry."

Everyone clapped!  Again Auntie Martha hugged Henry, and when she let him go, he said it again but this time in a loud voice, "My name is 'enry!"  Mummy, he had the biggest smile I have ever seen on him as he yelled his name once more!


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by Roy Wilson